What does it mean to be mindful? What would your life look like if you achieved this elusive state of mindfulness? I used to wonder. It was a mystery. I heard about it in yoga classes, read articles in magazines, searched out tons of books, etc. How was I supposed to achieve this state of bliss?
Mindfulness, Presence, In-The-Moment … to me these are all very similar. The many experts on the topic may define them differently. For the purpose of this post it is all about Waking Up To Your Life. What does it mean to wake up to your life? It means you notice what is happening while it is happening and you don’t let it run you over. Naturally your brain is wired to plan, worry, reflect and ruminate. Some call it “busy brain” or “monkey mind”. Add technology and social media into the the mix and how are any of us enjoying the moment or finding our bliss?
5 Steps To Mindfulness
- Come to attention. When you feel yourself beginning to get a little crazy in your head, simply come to attention. Stop the chaos. How do you know when your head is crazy? It truly is personal. Maybe you prefer to say your head is hectic or busy. Your thoughts are racing a bit. Something feels out of your personal control and a little jolt is required to put an end to it. MY MENTAL CUE: When my monkey mind begins to spiral out-of-control, I imagine this little military character in my head (sort of my internal mission control). She strongly says “Ten Hut!” Internally, I feel everything come to attention. A good friend of mine imagines that she is giving a high five to stop sign. What would prompt you to cease your distracted thoughts and come to attention?
- Increase awareness. Once you are at attention, notice what is going on. Are your thoughts or emotions running wild? What has you in a state of panic or euphoria? Can you identify or define what triggered your distraction? MY MENTAL CUE: Maybe I have watched too many PBS Masterpiece Mystery shows but this is when the investigator first arrives to the scene. Not that this has to be a crime but in my personal mindfulness practice this is when Sherlock would be determining what happened.
- Check it out. This is when you explore. How serious is it? What is really going on? This step could take some time. You may have to approach it from several different angles. Maybe step away for a bit and return later. Since you stopped the chaos and understand what you are looking at, it is okay to explore for awhile. Sit with it. Maybe a deeper dive is not required. After completion of steps 1 & 2, you simply let it go. MY MENTAL CUE: This is the investigation. How did it happen? If it is a serial distraction, can I prevent future occurrences?
- Show compassion. Be kind. This step should be practiced throughout the process. I include it here because as you explore you tend to become blameful. Many of us are wired to be hard on ourselves. We judge. We blame. We beat ourselves up. These mental actions sabotage our mindfulness. We lose our ability to be present. We lose our personal power. Sometimes false memories exaggerate the initial situation. It may be a different chaos but we are again distracted. MY MENTAL CUE: Whatever it is, I cradle it in my arms like a baby, offering care and kindness.
- Let it go. Letting go may be easy. Exploration complete. Resolution reached. Naturally the time has arrived. Other times, letting go, feels impossible. There may be no resolution. But still, the time has come. Resources are exhausted. The exploration has become tiresome and compassion is lost. Help is needed. It is time to reach out to others. Find someone with the expertise to help pull you from the exhaustion and cope with the letting go. MY MENTAL CUE: My cradling arms extend toward the sky and it flies away.
Summing it Up
Mindfulness is personal. It takes practice. Define it in terms that make sense for you. Being awake for your life does not eradicate your monkey mind. This five step mindfulness process will not eliminate the stress or distractions but gives you a tool to approach and manage life situations. Create mental images to cue you through your process. Finding your personal power changes your day-to-day outlook. Give it a try! Discover your mindful bliss.
What are the mental cues that work for you? How do you stop the chaos? Share your comments below!
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